So I went to see The Hunger Games this past weekend. It was a pretty good adaptation of the book, to a point. Why yes, I am one of those annoying people who reads the book, watches the movie, then critiques it when the film doesn’t follow the book EXACTLY. Which is unrealistic, I know. When a book is turned into a movie it can’t always be preserved exactly for various reasons: namely, time constraints. But in the case of The Hunger Games certain key parts were cut out that, at least in my opinion, were vital to the book.
Before I go on, in case anyone doesn’t for whatever reason doesn’t know the plot of The Hunger Games by now, I’ll give you a quick summary: it follows Katniss Everdeen, who takes her sister’s place in something called the Hunger Games, where children are forced to fight to the death while it’s broadcasted on live TV. The last one standing wins. There are 12 poor districts who must offer up a boy and girl to fight, while the Capitol, a wealthy, cruel overlord-y type place, watches and celebrates. They use the Hunger Games as a tool of oppression, since many years ago the districts revolted against the Capitol and failed. The Hunger Games are the Capitol’s way of saying “Look, we take your children and kill them and you can do nothing about it.”
It’s such a good book. The movie wasn’t bad, but there were parts where I wish they’d stayed a little more true to the book.
While reading the book, or even watching the movie, it’s impossible not to see the comparisons Suzanne Collins makes between the post apocalyptic world of Panem to our modern day Western culture. The Capitol is a place where its citizens want to look young, thin and beautiful, taking great pains to achieve all three, while the districts (or at least Katniss’s impoverished District 12) view age as an achievement, when so many people die young; being fat is something to be jealous of–it means you have enough (and more!) to eat. The Capitol, in its extravagance, has its warped idea of beauty, to the point where the rest of the districts are disturbed by what the Capitol thinks is “fashionable”.
SOUND FAMILIAR? IT SHOULD.
The Capitol is Western society. Though our idea of beauty doesn’t include purple hair or crazy outfits, it is still a warped, isolated idea. We need to be thin and young to be beautiful? UGH.
My friend and I went to see the movie this past Friday, and we were talking about it afterwards. She mentioned that, since the Capitol has all this amazing technology and medicine, you would think some of it would trickle down to the districts. I then realized, aren’t we the same? Shouldn’t our technology and medicine be trickling down to the people in countries who are dying from things we could easily fix?
The Capitol also represents the class system Marx hated so much: one being completely dominated and oppressed by another. The districts are so heavily oppressed by the Capitol that they can barely struggle to survive, not to mention being forced to watch and even celebrate as their children kill each other. It is the bourgeois and the proletariat all over again, except with more killing. Well, maybe not much more killing. Just a lot more…colourful.
Anyway, The Hunger Games is an excellent, not to mention effective, medium of criticizng our current soicety, and the movie stays true to the book’s main theme: oppression, in many ways. The Capitol oppresses the districts in literal ways, but the Capitol citizens are also somewhat oppressed by the twisted notion of beauty they are presented with. Though it may be a more extreme version of Western culture, it is no doubt a representation of our society. It also talks about how the media aid in this oppression: the Games are broadcasted live to all the districts, and everyone must watch. Here, the media are a tool to keep the people in their place by having them watch their children die.
So, don’t you see?
We are the Capitol.